Jill Abramson Won't Pander to Katie Couric’s Gender-Based Firing Accusations

Recently ousted New York Times editor Jill Abramson sat down with Katie Couric on Yahoo News Thursday afternoon to discuss her career at the Times, her firing, and her future plans. As expected, Couric wanted to center on the possible notion that Abramson being a female had everything to do with her firing. The former Today show co-host bent over backwards in an attempt to get the former editor to cry “sexism” as the reason for her termination from the newspaper.

“Are these qualities better tolerated in men than women,” Couric asked. “I don’t see gender as being the whole explanation, by any means, of what happened,” Abramson explained.

“How related was this to gender,” Couric pressed again. Abramson respond that sometimes certain characteristics that are praised in men aren’t exactly seen as “attractive” in women, but it is not the underlying reason for her being fired. “It is somewhat irksome to me to see so much focus on the issue of why was I fired,” Abramson said. She argued that a majority of Americans really don’t care about why she was fired. They are more concerned with the quality of the stories in the New York Times.

Abramson didn’t totally disregard the “double-standard” between men and women in the workplace. She acknowledged that can be the cause of workplace firings, but it wasn’t the reason for her being fired.

Couric tried to ask about the way Abramson approached some management issues and how it came across to her colleague Dean Baquet, now the Times Executive Editor. Abramson shot back: “I’m not gonna – now we’re really in the grassy knoll, Katie and I’m not gonna jump into any of that.”

Couric followed up by asking if Abramson would consider writing a book about her firing to which Abramson replied “I think there are maybe 20 people in the universe who would be interested in that.” Trying to move away from the topic, the ex-Times journalist icily remarked, “I think I have answered your questions about my own management style, but I’m not thinking about that much anymore.”

NewsBusters has documented before Katie Couric’s lamenting sexism for any and all criticism of females in leadership positions.

Jill Abramson also sat down with Greta Van Sustern at Fox News on Tuesday evening and discussed the lack of transparency in the Obama administration.

The relevant portion is transcribed below:

KATIE COURIC:How related was this to gender? You talked about that “Editing While Female” piece and I’m curious are these qualities that are better tolerated in men than women?

ABRAMSON: Well I think all the adjectives you read off.. I can scarcely think of an ex editor of the Times that wasn’t described in the same way. I think that, uh, women are scrutinized and criticized in a somewhat different way and certain qualities that are seen in men as being the qualities of a leader or ambition being seen as a good way are somehow not seen as attractive of a light when a woman is involved. I’m hardly the first person to observe that. I can think of a variety of women in different kinds of fields including the political arena that you and I have both spent a goodly portion of our lives covering who believe there is something of a double standard.

COURIC: Do you think a double standard was at work at the Times or do you think that there were qualities that were perhaps not working in your favor that – the same result would have happened to a male who perhaps...

ABRAMSON: It’s certainly possible. I mean I don’t see gender as being the whole explanation by any means of what happened. It’s somewhat irksome to me to see so much focus on the issue of why was I fired. I mean first of all, Let’s be honest, how many people in the real world like really care about why Jill Abramson lost her job? They should care about is the New York Times strong, is the news report fantastic and great and interesting? I think that is what I delivered on both as managing editor and executive editor and I’m very proud of that. I just think the amount of attention that’s focused on my last days as opposed to the eleven years that I did that everyday is out of proportion.

[...]

COURIC: I think a lot of people are sort of intrigued by the machinations and behind the scenes maneuvering of all of this. But you aren’t going to go there...

ABRAMSON: Maybe so..

Jackie Seal
Jackie Seal is a 2014 summer intern with the MRC's News Analysis Division.